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ITF welcomes UN High-level Group’s Sustainable Transport report

The International Transport Forum (ITF), the Paris-based intergovernmental policy think tank attached to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), has welcomed the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport’s new Global Outlook report.

The High-level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport was created by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2014 to develop actionable policy recommendations on sustainable transport at national, local and sectoral levels, and to promote the integration of sustainable transport both in development strategies and climate action. The Group’s new report, entitled Mobilizing Sustainable Transport for Development, provides 10 recommendations on how governments, businesses and civil society should re-direct resources in the transport sector to advance sustainable development. The report found that a transformational change to sustainable transport can be realized through annual investments of around US$2tn, similar to the current ‘business as usual’ spending of US$1.4tn-US$2.1tn.

The Group found that investments in sustainable transport could lead to fuel savings and lower operational costs, decreased congestion, and reduced air pollution, with estimated savings of up to US$70tn by 2050. A move to sustainable freight and passenger transport that includes integrated port terminals, well-planned airports, and harmonized standards and regulations for efficient border crossings, could produce a global GDP increase by US$2.6tn.

Focusing on important issues such as road safety, traffic congestion, and climate impacts, the expert panel’s 10 specific actions include the establishment of monitoring and evaluation frameworks, the promotion of sustainable transport technologies, and the increase of international development funding. The report calls for robust engagement by all stakeholders to ensure all members of society have access to jobs, markets, education and health care, through sustainable transport.

The ITF Secretary-General, José Viegas, who was appointed to the High-level Group in September 2015, specifically applauded the report’s move away from a concept of mobility focused on motorized transport and improving traffic speed, to the notion of transport as an enabler of access and prioritizing quality of life.

“Sustainable transport drives sustainable development. It is fundamental to meeting the needs of people in their personal and economic lives, while maintaining the ability of future generations to meet theirs,” noted Viegas (below). “Transport is not an end in itself. It is a means for access to jobs, markets, education, health services, cultural interaction, and a whole range of other services and amenities that contribute to healthy and fulfilling lives.”

Viegas also highlighted that the report:
• Recognizes the Avoid-Shift-Improve approach of reducing unnecessary mobility (Avoid), moving toward more energy-efficient forms of mobility (Shift) and enhancing the sustainability and efficiency of existing forms of mobility (Improve) as a useful framework for assessing transport measures and for taking action in support of sustainable transport;
• Highlights the importance of an integrated, holistic approach to policy and investment decisions, and the benefits of engaging a wide range of stakeholders and funding sources;
• Emphasizes the high priority for developing cleaner fuels;
• Puts particular weight on the needs, challenges and opportunities in developing countries.

November 1, 2016

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